Thursday, March 30, 2017
Tom Hamami provides Network Effects, Bargaining Power, and Product Review Bias: Theory and Evidence.
ABSTRACT: I construct a theoretical framework for expert product reviews and demonstrate how the existence of positive network effects can make review inflation profitable even when fully rational consumers understand the existence of bias. This finding moreover suggests that product reviews, in addition to transmitting information, may also serve as a coordination mechanism for early adopters. Empirical application to video game review data suggests that this industry is in an inflation equilibrium. Specifically, I find evidence that reviews are inflated for games produced by large firms and for those that are part of pre-existing game franchises. Additionally, I find that review inflation is heterogeneous across genres that vary by the extent to which they produce network externalities, and I argue that this result is inconsistent with alternative explanations of review inflation.